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Francisco Trincão analysis: What could he offer to Barcelona?

Anurag Agate

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Header Image by Pedro Correia via Imago

Braga’s tricky and gifted right winger Francisco Trincão will be arriving to Barcelona in the summer, and thus in this player analysis we review his profile, playing style and what he could add to the Catalan squad.


On 31 January 2020, Barcelona announced the signing of Portuguese forward Francisco Trincão. With a release clause of €500 million and a transfer fee of  €31 million, it’s clear that Barcelona have a lot of faith in the 20-year-old. He is one of the most promising Portuguese players currently. With rivals Real Madrid recently signing many young wingers such as Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, Barcelona have a clear aim of getting a reliable enforcement for the future in the form of Trincão. In this analysis, we take a look at what Trincão has to offer Barcelona and if Catalonia is the right destination for him.

Player overview

Francisco Trincão is a forward who plays in the Portuguese Primeira Liga as a right winger or as a striker. 2020 has been his breakout year and his performance has reached new heights since Barcelona announced his signing, only strengthening the club’s faith in this signing. Trincão started out at his hometown club, Vianense SC.

Leaving his hometown, he had short spells at Porto and Braga. He made his debut for Braga B in 2016 and went on to score 6 goals in 46 appearances. His record for the national team is impressive with 10 goals in 18 games for the Portuguese U19. For Custódio Castro’s Braga team, he has really done well. He has scored 6 goals in 23 games, true, but his 6 goals along with 3 assists this season have been in just 17 matches out of which 10 he didn’t even start. His performance has improved since having more eyes on him due to the announcement of him signing for Barça.

How Trincão fits in the current system

Playing for Castro’s Braga side, the young Portuguese has most often played as the right-winger in a 3–4–3. He is given plenty of freedom to take the opposition head on and dribble frequently. Braga have had some problems in the managerial positions, but the 3–4–3 system implemented by Amorim is being varied on by his successor Custódio after the former was approached by Sporting and he left Braga for the capital. In this system, the wingers are given freedom to attack with overlapping full-backs. Though the team has been somewhat susceptible to counter-attacks, they maintain their possession football and Trincão is the one benefitted the most by this.

Francisco Trincão Braga analysis Barcelona

As the right-winger in this system, Trincão’s starting position is fairly wide. He has the freedom to move inwards a bit, and has the responsibility of tracking back when he gets dispossessed. As we can see from his heatmap, he drops back a lot when the team is defending and his physique which is tall at 184cm and stronger than it looks, he often dispossesses the opposition. Thanks to this, his team is able to maintain shape and can rely on him to provide support.

Following a possession-based style, Braga also look to attack on the counter rapidly. The pace and dribbling of Trincão allows him to be a major asset in these scenarios.

Offensive capabilities

Trincão has racked up impressive numbers recently. With 1 goal every 127 minutes and 3 assists in just over 1100 minutes. That equals around one goal contribution every 90 minutes. But how does he produce these?

One of the things that benefits him the most is his experience playing as a striker. This has allowed him to develop an eye for goal leading to him ending up in really good positions in front of goal. In some scenarios, a winger and striker have different instincts. Let’s take a look at an example here.

Francisco Trincão Braga analysis Barcelona

Here, we see a teammate of Trincão’s looking to supply him with a pass into the box. Trincão has two choices here. One is to stay back and receive the ball just inside the box and use his magical left-foot to curl it in. But there’s a chance that the player marking him will be able to block the shot and if not, one of the defenders outside the box may arrive while the 20-year-old is yet to settle on the ball and destabilise him. Nonetheless, thanks to Trincão’s eye for goal, he uses his excellent pace to drive ahead of his marker and calmly pass the ball into the net. This striker’s instinct is something that has helped the Braga forward to score goals so efficiently coupled with his physical abilities of a winger.

Francisco Trincão Braga analysis Barcelona

Something that the Portuguese lacks is vision. He is more of an old-fashioned winger who takes up majority of the right side. Many time he tends to miss his teammates’ runs. However he makes up for this with his ability to provide accurate cutbacks. His technique to improve accuracy in this is the work of years of experience against defenders in the final third. When near or in the box as shown in the image, he is always looking for an option as we can see. His strongest asset here is his pace and acceleration. He draws one defender close to him and with a burst of space bounds forward. Now the second defender has to cover his shot opportunity as a rebound might fall to a Braga player. This is when Trincão pulls it back and his teammate slots it in. This is what makes his pace arguably one of his strongest assets.

Jack of all trades

The young Braga player has a sense of responsibility when it comes to defensive duties and keeping possession. After one of his best performances, his coach called him to say he had been impressed by Trincão. What impressed him the most was how Trincão immediately started pressing after gaining the ball back. Here, we have an example of his sense of responsibility and how it helps his team. The 20-year-old is by no means short or frail and this allows him to shield the ball well and not go down easily. Here, Francisco made a run with the ball towards the central parts of the field and he was pressed upon by two opposition players. He almost lost possession here, but his determination helps him. He shields the ball really well as we can see. The opposition players have no way of reaching him without fouling him or giving him too much space. Trincão swivels his body and catches the opposition by surprise and then his pace allows him to nudge the ball forward and proceed into threatening open space.

This example illustrates just how useful his determination and shielding abilities are. These have a tactical importance as well. In many systems, the winger not only has to have attacking capabilities but also defensive. In Valverde’s system, Brazilian winger Malcom was expected to track back and help in defence and his lack of ability in that field was reportedly one of the reasons why he didn’t impress the now ex-blaugrana coach. Trincão would have no problem in systems needing a winger to have defensive capabilities. This would also allow him to play as an attacking midfielder with inverted wingers allowing him to maximise his pace and acceleration while not giving up possession easily as can happen to a number 10 when isolated from his teammates. 

The Barcelona way

Trincão has some attributes which seem to be the kind that would help him fit into the positional play at the Camp Nou. His current system with overlapping fullbacks means that he won’t be out of place as a winger at Barça. Apart from this, his striker’s instinct and past experience means he could play in many positions. He could be deployed as a striker but to make the most of his abilities, he would be best suited to play in an inverted front three as a right winger. Of course, the right wing is only one man’s domain at Barcelona, Messi, but with Leo dropping deeper with his age, a pure right winger like Trincão is at a huge advantage with one of the best passers of the ball ever to supply him.

❛ Trincão will mark an era at Barça.
I’m sure ❜

Antonio Salvador
SC Braga president

The Portuguese also tends to hold on to the ball longer than he would be able to at Catalonia. He would need to make more one-touch passes and quick decisions. The risky dribbles down the right wing would no longer be useful as frequently ads at Braga. His pace becoming not as useful as earlier would likely be the biggest detriment for him when he joins Barcelona.

There are some things which each player needs to change about his game when they come to Barcelona. Many players have done it successfully and Francisco has the determination and discipline to do so as well. From what we have seen so far, Trincão has the potential to be a key player at Barcelona provided that he alters his mould a bit.

See also

Self-confidence, the greatest weapon of Martin Braithwaite

• André Onana: excellent, promising, and unneeded for Barcelona

• Junior Firpo: second chance or not?

• Barcelona and Matthijs de Ligt: a second saga incoming?

18, living in India, obsessed with Barcelona and Spanish football. I am into football in any form: watching, playing, reading about, writing about...In particular, I'm very interested in youth football, especially La Masía. I try to learn more about the tactical side of football as well.

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Analysis

Using Machine Learning to predict Barcelona’s 2021/22 league season

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Photo via Imago

Johan Cruyff famously said, “I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal.” It is indisputable that money is not the only deciding factor behind a football club’s success. Time and time again, we have seen that football is chaotic and absurd. Anything can happen.

That being said, it is evident that statistically, the clubs with more money are usually the more successful ones. While one cannot predict the unpredictability that is engraved within football, an outcome that is statistically probable can be predicted. This article will explore the relationship between the points a club accumulates in a league season and the total value of the club’s squad. Then, Python will be used to build a linear regression model in order to predict the number of points Barcelona will obtain in the 21/22 season based on the club’s hypothetical squad.

Let us begin with visualizing the relationship between the total league points obtained by a club and the club’s total squad value. Since the amount of money spent on transfers has increased tremendously over the course of the last decade, in this article, only seasons 2014/15 – 2019/20 will be considered. Upon plotting the total points against the total squad value, it is evident that there is a positive correlation between the two. Granted, the correlation is not extremely strong, but it exists nonetheless.

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A line of regression has been generated. The line’s gradient is approximately 0.05138986, and its y-intercept is approximately 44.5470726. There is only one dependant variable in question, club value/total value of squad, and so our line of regression can be modelled by the equation:

P = (0.05138986 )V + 44.5470726 where P is the points and V is the total squad value.


club_values = np.array(df['Values']).reshape(89,1)
club_points = np.array(df['Point']).reshape(89,1)

from sklearn.linear_model import LinearRegression
linear_model = LinearRegression()
linear_model.fit(club_values,club_points)

In order to predict the points accumulated based on Barcelona’s squad value next season, the squad value won’t directly be inputted into our equation above. The coefficient and the y-intercept have been rounded up after a certain number of decimal places, and so, to preserve the precision of the prediction, Python’s LinearRegression predict method will be utilized.

Now comes another challenging part of coming up with Barcelona’s hypothetical squad next season. Based on reports, it can be assumed that Samuel Umtiti, Miralem Pjanic, Martin Braithwaite and Phillipe Coutinho will be some of the notable players to leave. To compensate for the outgoing players, it can be assumed that Barcelona will sign Eric Garcia, David Alaba, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay. Here is a table that contains all the players in Barcelona’s hypothetical 21/22 squad and their corresponding market values:

PLAYER NAME MARKET VALUE (MILLION POUNDS)
MARC ANDRE TER STEGEN79.34
ARNAU TENAS1.59
RONALD ARAUJO26.45
CLEMENT LENGLET26.45
GERARD PIQUE12.70
DAVID ALABA58.19
ERIC GARCIA21.16
OSCAR MINGUENZA10.58
JORDI ALBA26.45
JUNIOR FIRPO10.58
SERGINO DEST26.45
SERGI ROBERTO26.45
SERGIO BUSQUETS10.58
FRENKIE DE JONG84.63
RIQUI PUIG19.04
ILAIX MORIBA10.58
PEDRI GONZALEZ74.06
GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM37.03
ANSU FATI84.63
KONRAD DE LA FUENTE2.64
OUSMANE DEMBELE52.90
TRINCAO26.45
MEMPHIS DEPAY47.61
ANTOINE GRIEZMANN54.00
LIONEL MESSI84.63
Figures via Transfermarkt

The club’s total value comes up to be £786.60 million. It is important to note that a player’s value is volatile. Transfermarkt updates player values every few months, and so it is extremely probable that this squad’s market value will be drastically different next season.

It is also important to understand that Transfermarkt’s market values are not official and so they are not always an accurate representation of a player’s true market value. Moreover, a player’s value is not always an accurate representation of their quality. Age is a key factor in determining market value, and so while a young player might have a high market value indicating that they are a bright prospect for the future, they might not necessarily be an excellent player at the time when the value is assigned.

Now that all of this has been established, the only thing left is making the prediction.

The machine learning model predicts that Barcelona will obtain 85 points in the 21/22 La Liga season. In the 19/20 season, Real Madrid won the league with 87 points, and in the 18/19 season, Barcelona won the league with 87 points as well. The difference between the points accumulated by the last two winning La Liga squads and the predicted points that Barcelona’s 21/22 squad will obtain is a mere 2 points. This shows that it is possible for Barcelona to win the league next season.

Since the correlation between the two variables, as observed from the data from the last 6 seasons, is not even close to being extremely strong, Barcelona’s 21/22 league points tally may be drastically different from what was predicted by the machine learning model. However, at the end of the day, the model can only work with the data it is exposed to.

Erling Haaland can change the course of Barcelona’s season. It would take forever to make predictions based on Barcelona’s hypothetical squads that include all of the club’s potential transfer targets, however, due to Haaland’s influence, an exception can be made for him. Laporta’s interest in signing Haaland has been widely reported.

However, he will cost a fortune this summer, and with Barcelona’s debt situation, it is unlikely that the Catalan club will pursue him in the upcoming transfer window. That being said like mentioned previously in the article, football is chaotic, and anything can happen.

Oh, Haaland. Oh, you. (Photo via Imago)

Assuming that Barcelona does end up signing Haaland in the summer, Antoine Griezmann will most definitely have to leave (due to wages and the money that can be generated from his sale). Haaland’s current value is £99 million, and so Barcelona’s total squad value for next season, after being corrected for Griezmann’s exit and Haaland’s arrival is £831.60 million.

Haaland’s addition can put 21/22 Barcelona on level with the previous two Spanish champions in terms of total points won. The difference in points between a squad containing Haaland and one not containing him is only two. However, an argument about whether signing Haaland is worth it, is not in the scope of this article.

“Transition seasons do not exist at Barcelona.”

Joan Laporta | Presidential campaign

A club of Barcelona’s stature will always compete for titles. The machine learning model shows that Barcelona is in contention for the 2021/22 La Liga title. Ronald Koeman has done a splendid job at the Blaugrana club this season, and there is no logical reason for him to not do an even better job next season after getting fresh players in the summer.

While football at its core is unpredictable, statistically, it would not hurt to trust Barcelona to win the 2021/22 La Liga title.

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